Advice for writing basslines


#1

My drum programming has improved. My mastering has improved. My knowledge of chords has improved. But I still suck at writing catchy basslines. Anyone have any advice that carries over no matter which genre? or perhaps an article they can point me to for help? My music would be so much better with catchy basslines.

Thanks.


#2

you could look into analyzing your favourite basslines and where they place the chord tones vs the non-chord tones, i’ve gathered that that relationship is important to the catchiness of a bassline


#3

practice make perfect. it takes time.

And suddenly one day you will discover that you can write basslines.


#4

I almost always start my bass line writing as one of the first steps. It evolves along w the beat and everything else is ear candy in a sense. In dance music keep it simple and make slight adjustments to your bass patch in different parts of the song. I like to have a pretty distinct A and B basslines for a house/techno track.

As Im writing the drum parts Im also adjusting the bass patch…envelopes mostly… get that gooey bassline so the drums and bass feel like they are pushing and pulling each other. You might want to adjust the envelope per step/note to make each bass tone hit just right. Adjust the micro timing of drums and bass as well. Play w swing.

For me in house/techno the bass and drums should be pretty funky/danceable/fun by themselves. No extras needed.


#5

I think different people do basslines different ways, obviously, but what tends to work for me is an interplay between longer notes and shorter notes. That way I can create a fairly obvious rhythm in the bassline separate from (but playing against) the drums. My basslines tend to be slower, but then you can mix it up on occasion and ratchet your longer notes (or the shorter ones) and that, without changing any of the notes, can completely change the way the rhythm comes across.


#6

Interplay between 1st 3rd and 5th note of a chord I find myself using sus2 and sus4 along with the 3rd note…

Also band pass filter automation followed by high pass filter automation and then sidechaining.

Also if you want resample wubs into beatslicer to get complextro glitch or funky rhythms with the drums


#7

Make the bass groove follow the drums. The notes can follow the chord progression but not just the root, use the 5th 3rd and other notes. And walk your bass line between the chords, chromatically maybe but not necessarily.
Doesn’t hurt to know music theory, or an instrument.
I put a guitar through an octave down pedal and figure out bass lines like that once I have an idea of the chord progression.


#8

You can double or make half time from midi clip you know - that is how

you can select all notes and stretch them to adjust 2x 0.5 time or your daw like ableton has 2x button

try different times and what’s work best


#9

Loop this, meditate on it. Profit.


#10

I’d rather listen to this

All kidding aside, thanks for all the advice guys. I only have one question directed @jbvdb493 What do you mean by “follow the drums” ?


#11

In a lot of modern music the bass tends to line up rhythmically with the drums, specifically the kick. There’s often more notes happening, but the bass will emphasize the kick hits, or at least the downbeat or backbeat if there’s a lot of kick or fills. It basically locks in the bass and drums as rhythmic elements, with the drums (again, specifically the kick) providing the ‘beat’ and the bass emphasizing that beat to make it hit harder. It’s why you see the bass player turned around nodding to the drummer in a lot of live acts - they’re making sure they’re locked in on the beat while the rest of the band does whatever it is they do to get chicks.

It’s also worth noting that for the most part, the bass is the bridge between the beat and the melodic content. The bass does double duty in locking in the beat and emphasizing the fundamentals of the melody. So it’s a balance of where the notes fall (the rhythm) and the notes being played (the melody). To make a good bassline, you really need both.

A pretty simple exercise is to grab a couple of your favorite tracks and EQ out everything above, say, 2k. Just listen to the bottom end and how the bass and drums interact.


#12

Basically @Artificer said it better than I could, but yeah it’s called the rythme section in a band because they work together.
I make a beat then like I said once I have an idea the chord progression I like making a simple melody with the bass that works with said beat, mostly using the root 3rd and 5th.
Then pads and power chords to fill it out and above that the main melody.
I like melodic but simple bass lines that work with the drums.
And that applies to mixing too, listen to just the bass and drums together. Then add the power chords or chord progression and they should all make sense together.


#13

Thanks for the laugh! So true though :joy:


#14

just pretend you’re using a step sequencer and making a drum pattern


#15

Hi I know I am late to the thread but as far as basslines are concerned I would recommend keeping it to the root note of your key, and don’t stray too far from there, only a few notes either side. So don’t jump up octaves or anything in your bassline, keep it real close to the root note and don’t stray too far from it. I was taught this and it’s worked for me.

Also, after programming basslines for some time, I found playing them on my keyboard a much better way to be more creative and interesting.


#16

I think this is pretty solid advice for a lot of electronic dance genres anyway. I usually use the root and the 5th.